Medicine Hat Media

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

After starting into counselling around age 30, the same time I left the now-defunct Glass Factory in Redcliff and attended Medicine Hat College, I have been on a journey that resulted in being diagnosed with PTSD at age 49.

Not that the PTSD occurred anywhere in that time period, just that the diagnosis slipped through all the counsellors, doctors, psychiatrists I met with through the years. My PTSD started anywhere from a very early age due to being the youngest child of 5 born into an extremely violent alcoholic family system.

To skip over the gory details, my oldest sister is the only other sibling to also seek counselling and her psychologist said to my sister that our home environment was quite similar to that of a concentration camp; never knowing when or who was going to die next.

I exhibit all the usual symptoms of PTSD: hypervigilance (constantly scanning/aware of my environment for danger), paranoia, irritability, IBS, etc. Then on top of that is a condition that can develop from being untreated called Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. This develops from dissociating from abusive situations, stress, etc., and creates malformed identities that are not very aware of each other. I have a Public Identity which tries hard to be normal, then represses most memories and I also have a lot of amnesia on a minute-by-minute basis.

I do not include any links or recommendations for anyone to follow for help for a condition like this as, um, there isn’t much out there beyond family support and to keep on keeping on. I still take my psych medication, as I will the rest of my life.

What I have found in the 5-1/2 years of my marriage, and especially growing in the past 9 months is a sense of Spirituality. I am broken at the core of my being and receiving spiritual emails that I hand-select from different sources speak volumes to the nurturing that I never received, or came at a high price.

Any questions are welcome, as this is a path that I don’t envy anyone to follow alone. I now have a wife and two step-sons and get a lot of enjoyment out of life, and have to carefully pace myself to not get too stressed; I am 50 now, the next 50 are going to be a riot!

User Comments

3 Responses to “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”

  1. March 23rd, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    Vaughn says:

    This kind of post and personal story takes a lot of courage to submit. This is also something that we haven’t seen before on Medicine Hat Media. I take great pride in the extreme variety of content on this site, but local, deeply-personal stories we haven’t done yet, thank you for sharing.

    I hope it also shows viewers that they can really submit anything here to share, as long as it has some substance and locality (never knew that was a word) to it.

  2. March 23rd, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Taylor says:

    Thank-you so much for sharing this Dean! Spreading the word about mental illness is the only way society as a whole will understand that mental illness of any type is not something to be stigmatized. Way to be the change!

  3. March 23rd, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    Dean says:

    @Taylor Thanks for the kind words, Taylor. A note from my experience of speaking up within my extended family about abuse, and consequently, mental illness: a first-cousin who is a principal of an exclusive all-girls school read one email conversation, replied sympathetically; her following email was to come down hard to shut me up and cover up any discussion of abuse within the family (my father and her father are brothers).

    Not all people are receptive to hearing, much less understanding, the diversity of the people who live within our community.

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